If you’ve never seen the holiday film, A Christmas Story, I apologize for all of the references here. (Seriously, you’ve never seen A Christmas Story?)
During my recent participation in a business webinar, I botched an opportunity to talk with one of my favorite authors. I love this woman – I’d been listening to her for 7 years – her business and life coaching always gave me something meaty to chew on. (High praise from a vegetarian.) Since my business flow had become stagnant, I felt I needed help. They opened the phone line for questions. I didn’t really have a question, so much as I wanted to talk with her. I thought it’d be kinda cool. Like “touching a rock star”, ya know? I had it all planned out: I’d listen to her other callers first, and formulate my question based in theirs in time for my turn. But I ended up getting through. The screener immediately asked for my name and my question, which I didn’t have. Really – I didn’t think I’d get through! Suddenly, I was about to be “face to face” with my hero, but I never really expected that. This is where I felt like Ralphie in A Christmas Story when he finally gets to sit on Santa’s lap: Put on the spot, I squeezed a lame business question out of my butt. Something about overcoming overwhelm in a sea of competition? What? Whatever – I thought I could reformulate it into a better question before they got to me, right? Not a chance, because not only did I get through, I was also the very first caller! Before I could think, “What was I thinking”, I was on the phone with this world-renowned, life/business coach. When she asked me for my question I, like Ralphie, blurted out the equivalent of “football”. She snatched that up like a single woman diving for a wedding bouquet. This was her cue to launch into old advice I’d heard her give at least a dozen times before. I mean, I was such a big fan that I knew virtually all of her tips. As she went on about something completely irrelevant to me, I felt myself desperately trying to climb back up the “slide”, in an attempt to rephrase my question. All I heard was “blah blah blah” until she finally asked, “Is that true?” No it’s not!! You got it all wrong! is what I wanted to scream, but it was now too late to defend or explain my true situation – the boot had touched my forehead. I simply replied, “If that’s what you hear from my voice, then it must be true.” Not what she wanted to hear, which prompted her to move on to the next caller. My mic got cut off, and down the slide I went. From somewhere in the “cotton pit”, I heard her say to her partner, “Well, I’m not a mind reader!”
I felt gypped. I felt like I had finally gotten my Little Orphan Annie decoder ring and all I got was a lousy commercial! She gave me old advice. It was a template – cookie-cutter – advice. I was sooo angry and frustrated . . . and embarrassed. I knew it was the wrong advice; it was so clearly the wrong advice – based on the wrong question! So I started to think, well what did I want her to say? What I wanted her to tell me was . . . Wait! This is when I realized that I knew all along what the right advice was. OMG – It wasn’t a matter of me needing her or any other expert’s opinion. It was a matter of me just doing what I needed to do! The hard truth: without accountability or support, I had cycled into over thinking, fear and procrastination. This “Doh!” moment propelled me into action. I immediately dug out a list of objectives I had begun in January and began with my most difficult task: reaching out to people I didn’t know. Scary.
A month later, I still know it’s the right thing to do, and I’m committed. I’ve been told that real progress – more often than not – is made with just ten seconds of outrageous courage. Not only do I believe it – I know it.